Trevor Ozawa keeps his city council seat by 22 votes. So what happens next?


If you need proof that in an election, every vote counts, look no further than the East Oahu City Council race between incumbent Trevor Ozawa and challenger Tommy Waters.

Ozawa won a second term by just 22 votes.

The big question is whether Waters will challenge the results and ask for a recount. For now, he isn’t saying.

The final tally has Ozawa with 18,357 votes over Waters with 18,335 votes.

District IV, which includes Hawaii Kai and Waikiki, has more than 67,000 registered voters. More than 39,000 voted, putting the turnout at 59%.

After the third printout, with most people going to bed, Waters was slightly ahead, but there were still about 8,000 ballots on Oahu that were not counted.

That proved to be the difference. Nearly 1,600 of those were from District IV, and those votes put Ozawa on top.

“I woke up and my phone was actually dead. I found out after. I was quite surprised as I was heading out to sign waving. I was like wow, okay, this is awesome,” said Ozawa.

Hawaii Pacific University professor John Hart says the standards for a recount in Hawaii are pretty strict. A tight race isn’t enough.

“You have to have what a court of law might call probable cause. They have to be able to point to something that happened and said this happened. It affected the election it could be,” Hart said.

Hart adds that it would have to be something more like if voters are denied access to the polls or ballots are unaccounted for.

Waters asked for a recount four years ago when he lost to Ozawa by 41 votes and was unsuccessful. Ozawa says he would be surprised if Waters did it again.

“Same people, same issues. There’s no issue and I think it would probably be tossed out just like the last one was,” said Ozawa.

We reached out to Waters, but he did not return our phone calls.

According to the Office of Elections, Waters has until Nov. 26 to file a complaint for a recount.

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